skip to main content
Close Icon We use cookies to improve your website experience.  To learn about our use of cookies and how you can manage your cookie settings, please see our Cookie Policy.  By continuing to use the website, you consent to our use of cookies.
Global Search Configuration

Oracle OpenWorld

Daily Roundups



Preview  | Day one   | Day two   | Day three  | Day four



A number of Ovum analysts are attending Oracle OpenWorld this week, and in the first of our daily roundups, we asked them what they expect to hear at the event. Look out for further editions of the daily roundup with news and analysis of all the key announcements as they happen.



Autonomous databases in action
Tony Baer, Principal Analyst, Data & Enterprise Intelligence

At OpenWorld 2017, Oracle announced that Oracle Database 18c Autonomous Data Warehouse would soon be generally available, and last March, it was released in the Oracle Public Cloud. Since then, Oracle has announced the expansion of autonomous capabilities to transaction processing and NoSQL database, along with its portfolio of cloud-based middleware services. So, this year, we're training our spotlight on early customers that have now had six months or more of actual experience with the autonomous data warehouse.

Ovum has covered the emergence of Oracle's autonomous database portfolio extensively in our research over the past year and a half. We have noted that autonomous database is a journey that was built on a bedrock of automation. We have also said that although Oracle was first out of the gate in announcing database autonomy, it would soon face competition across the industry. And in our travels over the past few months, we have seen a demo at a rival vendor's expo that included the words "autonomous database" (although we expect that the final branding will be different).

So now we want to know the experiences of Oracle customers that have decided to forgo the usual DBA knobs. We want to know about how their DBAs are handling the shift in roles (as we firmly believe that machine learning will not put DBAs out of a job). And we want to know how this has affected both the bottom and top lines: Has the autonomous database yielded any savings? Has it enabled these organizations to put new uses cases or apps into production that before might not have made the cut? Over the next few days, we plan to attend a number of sessions where Oracle Database 18c customers tell us their experiences. You'll be the second to know. 



On the road to SDN and 5G
Mike Sapien, Chief Analyst, Enterprise Services

Oracle Communications has many different offers within the communications vertical and a strong set of customers that depend on Oracle already. With the transition to SDN and the emergence of 5G deployment, Ovum expects to hear more about how Oracle plans to support its communications customers as SDN and 5G get baked into the new communications platforms for wireline and wireless operators. With the continued use of software, cloud, and virtualization, Oracle seems poised to take more share away from many of the traditional hardware-based suppliers.



On the hunt for AI
Tony Baer, Principal Analyst, Data & Enterprise Intelligence

Back in 2012, Harvard Business Review described the data scientist as "the sexiest job of the 21st century." How things change. Today AI is all the rage, which for most organizations, currently means machine learning. In a recent Ovum study of organizations with actual production experience with AI, we identified the dire need for collaboration to maximize the scarce talent available for a project lifecycle involving a superset of tasks and responsibilities compared with traditional analytics projects. The study also showed the inevitability that non-data scientists would be getting their hands dirty working with machine learning. 

At OpenWorld 2018, we're anxious to learn about Oracle's plans with its forthcoming Data Science Cloud and Analytics Cloud. This follows Oracle's announcement last spring to fill a key gap in its analytics portfolio with the acquisition of This adds a platform where teams can check in projects, develop code, and manage collaboration and deployment throughout the full lifecycle. Oracle's primary rivals, including IBM and all major cloud platform providers (not to mention a growing ecosystem of startups), have already staked their claims in this market. At OpenWorld 2018, we expect Oracle to disclose its direction for its new data science platform. And given that each of the major cloud providers now offer machine learning and deep learning services (e.g., image recognition, language translation), we're anxious to hear how Oracle intends to serve non-data scientists, whether through guided analytics experiences or AI capabilities embedded into smart enterprise applications. We'll put our ears to the ground this week in San Francisco and provide our take on what we hear.

Cloud infrastructure differentiators
Roy Illsley, Distinguished Analyst, IT Infrastructure

According to Ovum's ICT Enterprise Insights, there will be a change in 2019–20 in terms of the workloads organizations will be running in the cloud. This will increasingly be the mission-critical core systems such as ERP, CRM, databases, and so on. At OpenWorld 2018, I am looking to understand how successfully Oracle Cloud is attracting these workloads and what key differences Oracle Cloud is using to differentiate itself from other cloud providers such as AWS and Azure.

An exploration of connected journeys
Mila D’Antonio, Principal Analyst, Customer Engagement

Transformation is a process, not a destination, and therefore Oracle sees its mission as helping customers transform and innovate faster across their entire businesses. This is what Des Cahill, VP, CX outbound product management, told Ovum in August. Oracle is uniquely positioned as a central partner in this transformation, having embraced a new product strategy that prioritizes platforms over products.

Oracle plans to enable rapid enterprise transformation in three ways: connected data (customer, transactional, operational, IoT, behavioral, and third party); connected intelligence (generating automation interactions through AI, IoT, and behavioral analytics); and connected experiences (delivering end-to-end data across marketing, sales, service, and commerce).
At OpenWorld 2018, attendees should expect to see a focus on Oracle's Unified CX Platform to enable connected data, intelligence, and experiences. They will also likely see first hand how the autonomous cloud, data as a democratizer, and emerging capabilities such as blockchain, AI, IoT, and AR will work together to deliver personalized and proactive customer engagement. 

In an Ovum research note published earlier this year that summarized Oracle's ModernCX, I wrote: "In an increasingly connected world, it's more important than ever for enterprises to adapt to the shift in engagement and consumption and to unify customers' offline and online customer experiences on an individual level."
I anticipate OpenWorld 2018 will showcase the connected approach to engagement through real-world examples of creating 360-degree views of customers and prospects, building channel partner collaboration, modernizing communications, and empowering customer-facing employees through accessible and connected data.

Extending the partner ecosystem
Mike Sapien, Chief Analyst, Enterprise Services

Oracle's Partner Ecosystem was a major focus at OpenWorld 2017, and Ovum expects to see major progress in the partner program this year. This will include an increase in the number of partners and further examples of Oracle's success in creating a vibrant, engaged partner ecosystem, with partners and customers testifying to Oracle's ability to meet customers' requirements. Oracle has introduced many programs for its partners and extended into the mid-market segment along the way. Ovum expects to see continued achievements from the programs that Oracle has announced over the past year.

Tackling the cloud contact center market
Ken Landoline, Principal Analyst, Customer Engagement

Ovum has long considered Oracle a company with a great deal to offer in the customer engagement (CX) arena. Although the company partners with several of the industry's cloud contact center vendors and provides multiple CX applications directly to customers (e.g., chat, messaging, video, co-browsing, and virtual assistants, etc.), Oracle itself is not broadly perceived to be a leading cloud contact center provider. The CX market is seeing new entrants that are chipping away at the customer bases of the traditional cloud and premises-based contact center companies, and competition is rampant. Therefore, it's ideal timing for Oracle to plunge into the market with its Engagement Cloud, Service Cloud, and Field Service Cloud offerings as a contact center offering. The time is also right for Oracle to establish itself as a full-service cloud contact center provider, targeting the short lists of large and small companies looking to install a new contact center operation or replace an existing premises-based center with a cloud offering. Ovum will evaluate the prospects of the Oracle CX offerings at OpenWorld 2018 and the prospects of Oracle being included in Ovum's next Cloud Contact Center Decision Matrix.

Leveraging autonomous for accessible data prep 
Paige Bartley, Senior Analyst, Data & Enterprise Intelligence

As self-service analytics users become less technical, the pool of workers potentially needing to prep data for input into BI and visualization tools grows. Guided functionality, helping these users automatically decide how to blend and join their data, is necessary for the self-service ecosystem to reach its full business potential. Oracle, with its Oracle Analytics Cloud and embedded data prep functionality, is seeking to meet this need. By placing self-service data prep capabilities directly within its visualization and analytics ecosystem, Oracle allows analytics users to create a fluid workflow for data leverage, first prepping data upstream then directly feeding it downstream into visualization and analysis engines without switching products.

At Oracle OpenWorld 2018, we hope to get a glimpse of the autonomous capabilities that the company has augmented its data prep functionality with. These capabilities are not just a hollow riff on the company's "autonomous" narrative that began in 2017; they're part of a key trend in the self-service market to help increasingly non-technical users derive value from data. Guided functionality, focused on ease-of-use and "smart" recommendations for next-best-actions, is critical for helping general business users navigate and manipulate data. Self-service data prep, augmented by machine learning and NLP, helps users decide how to best create data sets that will have the most business relevance when fed into visualization and analytics engines. But perhaps just as importantly, autonomous functionality makes data prep accessible to a broader end-user audience, helping minimize bottlenecks and dependencies, and helping more workers create business value.



Embedding security across the portfolio

Mike Sapien, Chief Analyst, Enterprise Services

At OpenWorld 2018, Ovum expects more detail on the comprehensive offer of security across Oracle's entire portfolio. Oracle's security portfolio has to support both hybrid cloud and on-premises systems and include the major cloud providers in addition to its own applications and cloud applications. Customers need to have different on-premises and cloud options as well as be able to integrate their use of public cloud services such as AWS, Azure, and Google. Oracle must also back up its claim of both autonomous security and automation that it promoted last year.

Autonomous for efficiency and effectiveness
Tom Pringle, Head of Technology Research

There is no doubt in my mind that autonomous will be the defining theme of this year's Oracle OpenWorld. I believe autonomous should be considered from two angles: efficiency (driving down cost) and effectiveness (growing revenue). For Oracle, autonomous is the infusion of AI capabilities, such as machine learning, into cloud delivery, making its solutions easier to deploy, manage, and use. I expect to hear a lot from Oracle founder and CTO Larry Ellison during his keynotes on advances in Oracle's Autonomous Database. Removing much of the manual humdrum work of administering and managing databases is an obvious advantage for enterprises; so too are the security benefits from the automation of updates and patching.

Orchestrating these autonomous capabilities in the cloud simplifies and speeds up IT to support time-sensitive business objectives. I consider this angle on autonomous focused on infrastructure and platform (the lines between infrastructure- and platform-as-a-service continue to blur) to deliver efficiency benefits in the form of cost reduction and risk mitigation.

What of effectiveness? The shortage of analytical and data science skills is a major barrier for enterprises looking to squeeze more value out of their data. From advanced predictive capabilities built by the few, through the embedding of data-driven insight into business process to serve the many – these are revenue-adding effectiveness use cases. Oracle's application portfolio is undergoing its own autonomous journey, helping overcome the skills barrier and enabling these use cases. From enterprise resource planning through customer relationship management, the AI capabilities that run quietly in the background and surface insights direct in the application UI are where autonomous builds on top of cost-saving efficiencies and attaches value-adding effectiveness.

Migrating Higher Ed to the cloud
Joyce Kim, Analyst, Education

While the majority of Oracle's higher education customers are its on-prem Campus Solutions clients, many have expressed interest in moving to the cloud. Much of this can be attributed to the robust development and strengthening of Student Cloud, the vendor's cloud-native system tooled for institutional and student success, in the past few years (such as the May 2018 acquisition of automated financial aid solution Vocado, now Oracle Student Financial Planning). At OpenWorld 2017, Oracle announced the release of Student Management, its module for supporting continuing ed programs; this year's OpenWorld should see the release of Student Management for traditional education programs. Artificial and adaptive intelligence has also become a topic of conversation in the higher ed industry as well, and at OpenWorld 2018, Ovum expects to learn how Oracle plans to use digital assistants, predictive analytics, machine learning, and so on, to improve and personalize the level of services institutions provide for their constituents.



OpenWorld 2018: Day one     



Security, security, security
Maxine Holt, Research Director, Enterprise Technology

The opening day of Oracle OpenWorld 2018 focused heavily on security, reflecting how important this topic is for the enterprise today. We saw a big emphasis on the role of automation in enabling security, particularly the automated patching of systems online. The statistic of 85% of cyberattacks taking advantage of vulnerabilities where a patch has been available for over 12 months is a timely reminder of the struggles that enterprises face with finding a readily available IT and security workforce to address these patching requirements.

The world of IT and security should not be concerned that automation is going to "take away" jobs. The projected workforce shortage of nearly 2 million by 2022 for security alone has already considered the increased role of automation. Instead, automation will augment security jobs, enabling professionals to focus on preventing, detecting, and responding to cyberthreats at a higher level.

In one of the sessions, we heard Oracle claim "the most secure cloud in the world" as the second of three reasons for using Oracle Cloud, after integration and ahead of extensibility. Cloud security has been the number one concern for enterprises for years – perhaps Oracle should consider putting this as the number one reason for using Oracle Cloud?    



Oracle's Generation 2 Cloud fights robots with robots    
Tom Pringle, Head of Technology Research

At last year's OpenWorld, Oracle founder and CTO Larry Ellison asked audience members would they rather fight hackers themselves or let Oracle do so on their behalf. In Ellison's first keynote this year, he spoke about "our robots versus their robots." This is a cornerstone feature of Oracle's Gen 2 Cloud, which offers automated cyber defenses to help tackle the ever-growing online threat of cyberattack. Gen 2 offers Cloud Control Computers, physically separated compute that manages the cloud, and a thoughtful rearchitecting of Oracle's cloud – one that helps negate the risk of a malicious customer compromising that critical code and therefore other customers' data and applications. In my view, the key principle here is a simple one: as technology continues to advance, so do the threats, and as a result, the ability of humans to intervene is being constantly eroded. As the cyber arms race rages on, this is one area I expect humans not to mind being replaced with machines.     



CX innovation     
Ken Landoline, Principal Analyst, Customer Engagement


Oracle's CX platform is the right solution at the right time. The cloud-based offering, which provides AI, IoT, and behavioral analytics support to customer interactions, is providing support to both end-user customers and contact center agents to enhance business and sales and support customer interactions. The platform offers cross-functional, self-service business insights as well as behind-the-scenes support to agents focused on improving customer care. It can be implemented directly with enterprises or in support of their contact center provider to select best-next-action suggestions, enable more personalized customer service, perform intuitive data searches, and optimize messages, channels, and timing for digital communications. Oracle is on track to be a leading force in the market to improve both B2B and B2C interactions, as well as assist enterprises to meet or exceed business goals as AI begins to stream into the customer interaction marketplace.     



Oracle data prep serves multiple personas     
Paige Bartley, Senior Analyst, Data & Enterprise Intelligence

Data prep can be a contested term: for some, it suggests more traditional ETL and data integration methods, while for others it means purely self-service tools that are designed to help business users feed data into visualization ecosystems. Neither is entirely right or wrong. When data needs to be integrated and prepared for use in analytics, there are several parallel ways in which this can be done. Today's enterprise has multiple groups of users that all have the potential to participate in data prep.

Oracle is addressing all these groups of users via the capabilities of its Data Integration Platform and the Oracle Analytics Cloud. Together, these two ecosystems cater to the collective needs and work patterns of data engineers/developers, data analysts, and general business users.

In the Data Integration Platform, ETL and data pipelining capabilities cater to the IT professionals such as engineers and developers that have been traditionally involved in the integration process. A layer sitting above this technical ETL and data pipeline level is the interactive, self-service mode that uses a visual graph–based editor. Leveraging the same underlying ETL engine, it simply enables less technical personas, such as data analysts, to define ETL functions and participate in the ETL process.

For the least technical business users, those that need to quickly blend data to feed it into self-service visualization tools, Oracle answers with embedded capabilities in the Oracle Analytics Cloud. Guided functionality, driven by machine learning, helps even inexperienced users decide exactly how to best join and transform available data.     



Gluing together the Lego bricks in the cloud     
Tom Pringle, Head of Technology Research

Early Monday, Oracle Co-CEO Mark Hurd joined the collected analyst community at OpenWorld 2018 for a Q&A. In response to one question on the direction of travel in the cloud, Hurd discussed his view on the world of IT having "decomposed into a Lego set" from early dominance by a single megavendor, spawning the rise of the systems integrators. This world was inherently complex, consuming much of the budget and effort of IT departments just to keep things running. The result? Innovation takes a back seat. It is his opinion that the cloud brings vertical integration back to IT, bringing "simple and secure" solutions that are the future. By handing over substantial portions of day-to-day management by using the cloud, IT resources are liberated – not just to cut cost, but to refocus effort on innovation and meeting new enterprise needs.     



CX Unity provides a connective data tissue      
Mila D'Antonio, Principal Analyst, Customer Engagement

Data is the fabric of any organization. Unified data with built-in machine learning becomes the Holy Grail in engaging contextually with customers. At OpenWorld 2018, Oracle launched Oracle CX Unity, a platform approach that unifies offline, online, and third-party customer data, and applies machine learning to understand customer intent. Because CX Unity is integrated with Oracle CX Cloud, it becomes a connective tissue that enables organizations to apply predictive intelligence across all customer touch points in an enterprise. The result is unified customer profiles that are essential for engaging with customers in personalized ways across the customer journey.

Manoj Goyal, GVP, product management, Oracle, said CX Unity redefines customer intelligence to help enterprises see the blind spots of today's unpredictable customer experience. Oracle's data-first approach places the customer in the center of an organization, enabling enterprises to engage contextually with the right message at the right time and the right place. By taking a data-first approach to customer engagement, Oracle is trying to change the enterprise mind-set from transactional to contextual.     



CSPs can turn customer data into actionable insights     
Chantel Cary, Senior Analyst, Telecoms Operations & IT

During day one of Oracle OpenWorld, the vendor highlighted the capabilities of its CX Cloud and Oracle CX Unity products. While CX Cloud is an end-to-end SaaS customer experience solution, CX Unity is a tool running throughout the larger CX Cloud solution to provide "customer intelligence."

As Oracle notes, CX Unity takes a data-first approach to provide customer intelligence and inform the customer experience and customer engagement at each point in the customer's lifecycle. The vendor highlights the power of data to deliver the personalized customer experience that the majority of CSPs continue to chase today. However, by using a common data platform and applying the necessary tools, CSPs can turn their wealth of data (from customer, network, and other sources) to deliver a highly personalized and differentiated customer experience.     



Buzzword bingo is a story of enabling features, not solutions     
Tom Pringle, Head of Technology Research

A common theme of questions and discussion during the Industry Analyst Summit at OpenWorld this year were the current buzz topics of AI, blockchain, and quantum computing – pleasingly, some of the hot air was extracted. Several senior Oracle executives stressed that these capabilities are, or will be, features, not solutions in their own right. I must admit personal bias against blockchain here; I have described it as a solution looking for a problem. That statement is, perhaps, harsh as there are plenty of viable use cases for blockchain, but in each of the ones I can think of, blockchain is an enabling feature to a bigger use case – not the solution itself. Oracle talked about making new and emerging technologies like these an integral capability of its platform, making them easy for developers to adopt as supporting features for the new solutions they build. Buzz is fine – it helps put new technologies in the limelight – but the solutions they help complete is where business value is created.     



Oracle Monetization Cloud (OMC) gets an upgrade with 18C release     
Chantel Cary, Senior Analyst, Telecoms Operations & IT

During the first day of Oracle OpenWorld, the vendor announced the latest release of its Monetization Cloud product. There was no lack of discussion about Oracle's cloud capabilities and ambitions on day one, and the 18C release of OMC puts many of these touted features on display. In release 18C, OMC improves enterprises' ability to provide a more personalized customer experience by enabling more granular customer attributes and persona-based permissions. The release also improves on pricing and offer design models. New pre-integrated payments capabilities for vendors such as PayPal and Chase Orbital have been added. Finally, with this release, Monetization Cloud is now being implemented via a Kubernetes-managed microservices architecture.    



Oracle's acquisition of DataFox adds an AI approach to data-as-a-service     
Tony Baer, Principal Analyst, Data & Enterprise Intelligence

Oracle's latest acquisition, announced during OpenWorld, adds yet another data-as-a-service (DaaS) company to its portfolio. But unlike previous acquisitions, which included BlueKai and Datalogix, the latest company – DataFox – incorporates AI into its service.

DataFox compiles data to provide intelligence that augments CRM systems for qualifying sales prospects. Extracting data from nearly 3 million public and private businesses, AI enters the equation with machine learning algorithms that provide context to the data. For instance, it applies anomaly detection to identify stale records, corrupt data, or duplications. Machine learning is used for record matching that can be used for prioritizing prospects and/or active accounts; identifying prospects with the highest probability of closing; and scoring prospects based on signals indicating growth. It can be used for filtering, probabilistic matching, and segmenting lists for building territory sales strategies.

As such, DataFox complements the previous acquisitions of BlueKai and Datalogix in filling out the Oracle marketing cloud. The difference on this go-round is the introduction of AI, which is used for enriching data. The DataFox acquisition is another proof point of Oracle co-CEO Mark Hurd's declaration that most AI will wind up incorporated as features that are part of business solutions, rather than being solutions in and of themselves.    



Oracle evolves its global startup ecosystem    
Mike Sapien, Chief Analyst, Enterprise Services

Oracle's support of and focus on startups was discussed at Oracle OpenWorld 2018 as part of a Global Startup Ecosystem panel session. It showcased a very interesting and counterintuitive approach to this segment of the market, as many industry pundits see AWS as the preferred cloud platform for startups. Oracle has made progress in this market, and the panel was an interesting showcase of startups using Oracle cloud services. Although still early days, Oracle has evolved its Global Startup Ecosystem program to personalize the journey for each member of the annual cohort, and the new approach is already showing success. Ovum looks forward to seeing more examples and growing business with this approach to sponsor enterprise-focused startups, and welcomes Oracle's policy of not taking an equity stake in these firms. This policy makes it harder for Oracle to get the attention of startups, but it also means there is less risk of any funding decision impacting or tainting the decision of cloud infrastructure. This also eliminates the potential conflict of interest created when vendors fund startups to have them decide to use the respective vendor's services and products.



OpenWorld 2018: Day Two



Autonomous Database removes pain of patching    
Rik Turner, Principal Analyst, IT Infrastructure

At Oracle OpenWorld, co-founder and CTO Larry Ellison took aim at cloud market leader AWS in the clearest terms yet. In terms of IaaS, he argued that Gen 2 Cloud/OCI is orders of magnitude faster and cheaper than the Amazon offering. In database-as-a-service, he ran comparisons between Oracle’s new Autonomous Database and AWS’s Redshift data warehouse, Aurora transactional database, and AWS’s Oracle database-as-a-service (RDS).

One of the big pluses with Autonomous Database is that it patches itself automatically and without requiring any downtime to do so. This has been a leitmotiv of the first day of OOW18: patching is an operational headache that cloud services can and should remove by doing it for you, as soon as a patch is available and without disrupting your operations.

Earlier in the day, co-CEO Mark Hurd said the pain of patching is one of the factors that has led cloud adoption to exceed even his predictions from a few years back, while senior VP Juan Loaiza mentioned that Oracle sought to sidestep the issue of manual patching by developing automated patching with the Autonomous Database. WannaCry exploited multiple unpatched systems, particularly within the UK's National Health System. Of course, they weren't Oracle systems…    



Oracle shoots for dynamic orchestration with Oracle CX Unity    
Jeremy Cox, Principal Analyst, Customer Engagement

In high-volume B2C environments, omnichannel creates a chaotic storm of millions of daily customer interactions. It's a bit like international air traffic control, except the inhibiting customer doesn't file a flight plan, and their journeys can start from any device, break off and resume when the fancy takes them, and expect to pick up where they left off.

The challenge from a technology perspective starts with data. Customer recognition requires the synthesis of both historic transactional data, often fragmented across multiple systems through the entire value network, and live interaction data. A vast array of connected machine learning algorithms, which react in microseconds, then goes to work on this data to tee up the relevant response throughout each apparently chaotic journey.

And this is where Oracle CX Unity is a big leap forward in the complex and chaotic omnichannel environment, providing three core capabilities: 1) a connected customer profile (ID Graph) supported by a consolidated data lake, 2) customer intelligence supported by connected Adaptive Intelligent Apps and a host of other AI capabilities, and 3) personalization across the entire customer journey.
What is especially encouraging is to see the potential to go beyond localized ML to support a discrete function and, through the combination of Oracle's Integration Cloud, CX Unity, and an array of connected AI, deliver the kind of experience that the unobliging and unreasonable customer now expects.     



Oracle's second-generation cloud infrastructure    
Roy Illsley, Distinguished Analyst, IT Infrastructure

Oracle has announced the release of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI), the next generation of its infrastructure cloud architecture, which is needed as more mission-critical workloads move to the cloud. The challenge for current cloud architectures is that they were designed to be multitenant, which made them perfect for supporting multiple different customers and scaling as demand dictates. However, while this architecture may be ideal for cloud providers in terms of how they can deliver the services to customers cost-effectively, it does not address some of the serious security concerns.

Oracle, with its next-generation cloud architecture, has separated the control plane from the customer's data, which provides two key security benefits. Firstly, Oracle cannot see customer data and has no way of accessing it without the customer's permission and help. This delivers on privacy and on many additional concerns that customers in other countries have with the US Patriot Act and the ability of US-based companies to access their data following a request from the US agencies. Secondly, having the provider control data on a separate set of servers with controlled port access means that any malicious attacker (even if they get access to a customer's data) cannot also reach other customers or the provider's control plane. This level of security is precisely what is needed when the cloud begins to be used for more of the mission-critical and core business applications, which Ovum's data indicates will happen in the 2019/20 timeframe.     



Oracle launches its Digital Assistant    
Tom Pringle, Head of Technology Research

During one of OpenWorld's Spotlight sessions, a senior Oracle executive asked the audience: "When was the last time you had a conversation with ERP?" It is an entirely fair question to pose, the answer – of course – generally being "never!" The session, titled "The Millennialization of ERP," is representative of a trend that has been making relatively slow but steady progress within the world of enterprise IT: consumerization. Perhaps the most visible example of this has been the revolution of user-selected smart devices in the enterprise, and attendant bring-your-own-device policies. A little deeper into more "corporate" applications I would consider self-service analytics as another indicator, which brought more "human" UIs and a visually driven approach to working with data. But ERP, seriously? Yes! And why not? ERP applications are accessed by huge numbers of enterprise users every day. Making them easier to use and automating away some of the low-value tasks that do not really need human intervention seems like a natural way to improve productivity. Taking aim at this problem, Oracle has announced the Oracle Digital Assistant, a conversational digital assistant for users to engage with enterprise applications including ERP, but also HCM, CX, and SCM. Addressing the outdated modes by which users interact with technology is a necessary shift in the industry and appears to be one of the primary motivations behind the Oracle Digital Assistant.    



Machine learning and NLP drive Oracle Analytics Cloud strategy    
Paige Bartley, Senior Analyst, Data & Enterprise Intelligence

Oracle's mantra with Oracle Analytics Cloud is to "simplify, connect, and scale." This focus on simplicity reflects the nature of the self-service ecosystem, where end users are gradually becoming less technical. As organizations strive to leverage data enterprise-wide, they are seeking out tools and platforms that enable knowledge workers of diverse skill sets and backgrounds to participate in the consumption and manipulation of data for business value. This requires guided functionality, typically powered under the hood by machine learning.

Embedded machine learning and natural language processing are core to Oracle's "autonomous" strategy with the Oracle Analytics Cloud offering. The objective is to enable any business user, of any skill level, to derive business value from data. Doing so requires abstracting away the complexity and decisions involved with data analysis, guiding users and surfacing relevant results for them. Oracle, last year, initially introduced many of these natural language and machine learning capabilities, allowing users to interact organically with Oracle Analytics Cloud, asking business questions in natural language and getting visualized data as a result in near real-time. Social feed capabilities in their Day by Day app learn exactly what users are interested in, and bring them relevant analytics content. Oracle has been consistent with this strategy, doubling down on machine learning and natural language capabilities, refining functionality, and improving underlying algorithms. On the product roadmap, Oracle is working on ways to automatically generate natural language captions and narratives for the visualizations and results that are generated, providing an alternate method of data consumption for their diversifying population of users.    



Preparing for 5G    
Mike Sapien, Chief Analyst, Enterprise Services

Oracle's Communications group shared its update and ongoing success within its business unit with enterprise and CSPs. Oracle Communications has made progress with its portfolio and has a strong vision to leverage its position with the emerging investment in 5G by the operators. Oracle had some customers share their reasons for selecting Oracle services, including some validation of Oracle's strong CX and billing platform, to enable improved customer service and flexible billing. With Oracle's relationships with many global CSPs on the network side, there is strong potential for continuing success as CSPs start to deploy 5G and announce 5G services such as network slicing. Ovum expects to see more announcements with customers, strategic partnerships, and further development of Oracle's plans for networking and security around SD-WAN in the coming months.    



Oracle's PaaS strategy has capitalized on its unique strengths in the market    
Saurabh Sharma, Principal Analyst, IT Infrastructure

Oracle has the broadest set of products at the PaaS layer of cloud services market, ranging from application development and integration to process management & automation, Internet of Things (IoT), and blockchain. Oracle's SaaS applications portfolio is among the broadest in the market and its strategy aimed at driving SaaS-led PaaS adoption has delivered great results. A good case in point is Oracle's integration-centric PaaS portfolio where about 4,500 customers are using Oracle's iPaaS, including Oracle Integration Cloud Service (ICS) and Oracle SOA Cloud Service (SOA CS). In quantitative terms, this business has grown over 100% over the last couple of years. 

This growth has eclipsed the decline in uptake of on-premises middleware (e.g. Oracle Service Bus/Oracle SOA Suite), with options such as BYOL (bring your own license) provided to customers to expedite their movement towards a middleware-as-a-service (MWaaS) model. Given that over 100,000 enterprises are using Oracle's SaaS applications, there is much opportunity available to upsell and cross-sell PaaS to existing customers as part of packaged "SaaS+PaaS" deals. Moreover, there are no major use cases for which enterprises do not have access to an Oracle PaaS product. With this product strategy and its aggressive execution, Oracle has obviously kept its customers happy by providing a similar (or better) version of on-premises middleware products; they do not need to look elsewhere. Enterprises that want to reduce complexity and need a homogenous cloud stack across SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS layers have very few options available in the market, and that is where Oracle has a clear differentiation. Simplified user experience (UX), AI/ML-based tools driving user productivity, and focus on line-of-business (LoB) users are areas where Oracle has incorporated major advancements.    



Virtual assistance for higher ed    
Joyce Kim, Analyst, Education Technology

Artificial and adaptive intelligence are hot topics across all industries, and higher ed is no exception. Oracle's Higher Ed team demoed how they are embedding emerging technologies like machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP) across Student Cloud as a means for improving and personalizing the level of services institutions can provide their constituents. Automated financial aid processing, packaging, and disbursement in Student Financial Planning ensures that students receive access to funds in the shortest amount of time while reducing the manual labor of administrators by over 85%. "Luci," Student Cloud's virtual assistant, acts as a conduit for all these technologies and can directly engage with students, answer frequently asked questions, create a personalized course schedule, and register for courses.    



Core-to-edge security    
Maxine Holt, Research Director, Enterprise Technology

On day two of Oracle Open World 2018 we found out a bit more about security, in particular Oracle's "core-to-edge" approach. This is about improving security from the cloud to the edge of the network, protecting data at the core.

New for Oracle, this resonates extremely well with Ovum's view of security technology. Protecting data and systems from security incidents and breaches requires layers of security technology covering data (e.g. data-leakage protection), core (e.g. identity management, authentication), and edge (e.g. intrusion prevention, cloud access security broker – CASB).

Lining up with the core-to-edge approach was an announcement covering the availability of a native web application firewall (WAF) for Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, to protect against cyberattacks focused on Layer 7 of the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) communications model. This is about protecting the edge. The WAF inspects traffic to any internet-facing endpoint and can enforce rules to protect against a variety of attacks, including Layer-7 DDoS.

Of course, DDoS attacks don't only happen at Layer 7; Layers 3 and 4 (network and transport, respectively) are also subject to these attacks, and Oracle also announced an automated DDoS attack detection and mitigation at all its data centers. Automation is a recurring theme; Mark Hurd made the comment that AI is not an independent solution but instead is a core feature embedded into almost every application, and this is just one example of many.    



Oracle discloses direction for    
Tony Baer, Principal Analyst, Data & Enterprise Intelligence

With the acquisition of, Oracle is on the road to filling a gap in its portfolio targeting data scientists. With ink on the acquisition that closed in August still drying, Oracle has disclosed early plans for this new addition to the portfolio.

Ovum profiled (prior to the Oracle acquisition) earlier this year. To recap, focuses on scaling data science processes by allowing practitioners to work with the languages, notebooks, models, and tools of their choice. It provides a project-oriented workflow management and reporting platform that allows data scientists to stay in sync with the business. Oracle is now in the process of rolling out as a service on the Oracle Public Cloud. 
Rollout will come in phases. We expect that the first piece will be out within the next few months, and it will include the core data science tooling that encompasses integration of notebooks and capabilities for versioning and tracking projects, source code control, and rollbacks and "roll forwards" that are expected of enterprise-grade tooling.

Future phases will introduce features to democratize AI with capabilities that allow a broader selection of practitioners who have basic knowledge of statics and modeling, but are not AI experts. This is on par with what rival clouds like AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google are featuring with services such as Amazon SageMaker, Azure ML Studio, and Google Cloud AutoML. Further down the road, we expect to see capabilities such as publishing and extended workflow management and model lifecycle management (this is especially critical for tracking model drift and data drift). Going forward, we hope that Oracle addresses the handoff between data scientists and data engineers with embedding capabilities to its big data integration tools – so the data wrangling burden on data scientists grows more manageable.    



Security in a 5G world    
Mike Sapien, Chief Analyst, Enterprise Services

Oracle Communications hosted a session on "Security in a 5G World," which highlighted the current need for security within the network operators' network and the work that Oracle is currently doing to develop the new techniques and infrastructure that will be required with 5G deployment. Today Oracle has years of experience with the SS7 network within operator networks and is leveraging this knowledge to develop the new architecture required for the transition to 5G and the growing demand of IoT. Along with the transition to 5G, the massively growing volume of IoT devices, and the implementation of SDN/NFV, operators will be increasing the attack surface of their networks and the signaling system required to manage 5G. Oracle is contributing to standards bodies, industry specifications, and FCC filings to help develop the needed policies and design for 5G and related signaling. Operators will need a new level of security and the ability to connect and communicate with other networks and cloud resources for many of the new emerging services. Ovum was impressed with Oracle's contributions to this overall industry effort beyond its own CSP product efforts.    



Moving higher ed to the cloud    
Joyce Kim, Analyst, Education Technology

While the cloud is presumably the end goal for forward-thinking higher ed institutions, many of them are still reliant on on-premises systems. At OpenWorld, Oracle outlined a practical path to the cloud for these institutions that is fully cognizant of the difficulty and cost of replacing or upgrading mission-critical systems like ERP or SIS. For example, Oracle is about to release an out-of-the-box integration for cloud-native Student Financial Planning for its Campus Solutions customers. In addition, while Student Cloud is an end-to-end system for institutional and student success, it is available as separate modules (e.g. Student Recruiting, Student Financial Planning, Alumni/Donor Management) so that institutions can choose the solutions that fit their current needs and budgets.     



OpenWorld 2018: Day three     



Oracle aims to serve the full spectrum of enterprise AI requirements
Tom Pringle, Head of Technology Research

A session at OpenWorld discussing a "build or buy" approach to AI demonstrates that Oracle's current portfolio and future direction is clearly aimed at serving both needs. On the build end of the spectrum are the much-feted data scientists, whose approach to building AI capabilities is founded in open source tools, maximum flexibility, and an experimental approach to their development work. Earlier this year, Oracle acquired, a platform that allows data scientists to do just that.'s platform provides an end-to-end capability that gives them freedom to work with open source tools of choice and flexible access to necessary computing resources, and brings a greater degree of governance, helping to make IT's job of supporting them easier. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Oracle's Adaptive Intelligent Apps deliver packaged AI capabilities for use cases mostly found in its CX portfolio. Critically, Adaptive Intelligent Apps do not just deliver the machine learning smarts in a business-user-friendly way, but brings in data from Oracle's Data Cloud to enrich customers' own data, thereby improving outcomes. As with any spectrum, there are points between each extreme, in this case it is Oracle's platform where the connectivity middle point is found. This year's OpenWorld has seen the announcement of a plethora of AI-powered enhancements delivered in or by Oracle's platform services, including Autonomous Database, Digital Assistant, and UI enhancements. The level of maturity, nature of use cases, and readiness to adopt among enterprises varies wildly – Oracle's growing ability to address enterprises' requirements regardless of the type of AI they are interested in is an emerging advantage in the market.    



Oracle's integration-centric PaaS business gains critical momentum     
Saurabh Sharma, Principal Analyst, IT Infrastructure

Oracle has invested significant capital in developing its integration-centric PaaS portfolio aimed at hybrid integration and process automation use cases. Within a period of three to four years, this portfolio has evolved into one of the broadest middleware-as-a-service (MWaaS) stacks available in the market, and Oracle is competing successfully against vendors that entered this market well before it. This is, of course, the result of aggressive investment in product development. However, sales and marketing organizations have been successful in driving upsell and cross-sell of Oracle PaaS to existing Oracle application and middleware customers.

On the integration side, Oracle has fairly mature PaaS products aimed at application and B2B integration, managed file transfer (MFT), and API management use cases. On the process management side, Oracle Process Cloud Service (PCS) and partnerships with RPA vendors (e.g., UiPath) have ensured that Oracle continues to meet the requirements of customers looking to shift from traditional on-premises BPM suites (BPMS). Having such a functionally rich, broad PaaS portfolio for all key integration and process management use cases puts Oracle in a unique position in the global middleware market. Customer growth figures indicate that Oracle's integration-centric PaaS business has grown well above market average rate and has more than covered the decline in on-premises middleware business. API-led integration and use of AI/ML capabilities for driving greater user productivity are key themes for Oracle, and it is also expanding its footprint in the medium-sized enterprise segment. Not many vendors have achieved this level of success in driving PaaS adoption, and none on the integration middleware front. With Oracle's focus on meeting specific requirements of key user personas (e.g., less-skilled business users), it is a clear case of getting most things right, starting with good understanding of customer requirements, and then achieving rapid product development and effective sales and marketing. At this growth rate, Oracle could very well emerge as the leading MWaaS vendor over the next two- to three-year period.     



Oracle cloud applications are a platform for innovation    
Tim Jennings, Chief Research Officer

Both customers and executives at Oracle OpenWorld have talked about a growing trend of innovation as a major business driver for cloud application deployments. Historically, innovation has not figured highly in the business case for these projects, particularly for the ERP systems that run an organization's core business processes; the rationale has been much more about operational efficiency and modernization of back office functions – something particularly prevalent in HR and finance in recent years.

Now organizations are looking at their core applications as a platform for innovation, particularly as their digital transformation projects extend deeper into the core. Capabilities such as AI and machine learning, blockchain, and IoT are all seen as opportunities to innovate around products, services, and business models. Implementation approaches are changing to match these ambitions, with a move away from lift and shift – and replicating existing customizations in the cloud – toward making a fresh start on a modern platform, with a phased agile implementation and a regular and frequent rate of new functionality.

Oracle's cloud applications strategy is moving closely in tune with these trends, incorporating machine learning extensively across the portfolio and building targeted solutions using blockchain and IoT. Most parts of Oracle's application business have settled into a cycle of quarterly releases, encouraging customers to take advantage of new functionality for further innovation.     



Oracle partners for success    
Mike Sapien, Chief Analyst, Enterprise Services

Oracle OpenWorld kicked off on Sunday with the "Partner Executive Summit" session, which included many senior executives from Oracle's Cloud Business Group and Partner Group. As well as sharing major awards for some key Oracle partners, Oracle set the stage for OpenWorld 2018 with six major themes for the week. Over the course of the event, Oracle has promoted these themes, provided some customer proof points and made product announcements. The six themes are that Oracle has 
- developed the most complete cloud
- led the shift to its autonomous database
- offered AI-infused SaaS applications
- emerging technologies across its cloud layers (with AI, ML leading to automation)
- been upgrading customers to the cloud
- been investing in making selling easier for all channels including the partners. 

Oracle has made a major investment in its partner ecosystem, which continues to bear fruit with an expanded portfolio of partners, improving customer service, and increasing growth in revenue – in some cases triple-digit growth of production (ISVs). Another sign of its increasing partner support is the introduction of the Sales Central and Sales Essentials programs to the partner community. Oracle's partner program seems to have reached a level of maturity and major success with its partners, with a focus on customer delivery.    



Hurd makes predictions about AI, cloud, and the future of IT    
Mila D'Antonio, Principal Analyst, Customer Engagement

During his Oracle OpenWorld keynote presentation, co-CEO Mark Hurd made his annual predictions. They included: by 2025, all cloud apps will include AI. Hurd said it is nonsense that blockchain and AI are seen as separate solutions. These advancements will accelerate productivity and innovation in the cloud.

He also said 85% of interactions with customers will be automated. As Ovum sees more enterprises deploying AI for everything from segmenting and responding to customer inquiries to filling knowledge gaps held by large portions of their consumers through articles, refined FAQs, and intuitive solutions to common problems, this is a solid prediction. As more enterprises succeed at integrating structured and unstructured data, they will provide a solid foundation for AI to scale and handle more complex consumer inquiries in the future.

Finally, Hurd said 60% of IT jobs have not been invented yet. He maintains that as database administrators become disintermediated because autonomous database will take over the tuning, it will free up IT staff to do high-value tasks. Hurd believes automation will create jobs, as enterprises will require people to supervise robots and AI-powered systems to ensure they are working properly. While the impact of AI on IT will be profound in increasing productivity, the level of job creation or loss remains to be seen.   



Oracle Data Catalog Cloud aims to help users navigate data    
Paige Bartley, Senior Analyst, Data & Enterprise Intelligence

In today's enterprise, the sheer volume and diversity of data, spread across distributed repositories in the cloud and on-premises, means that half the challenge in extracting value from data is simply finding the data that you need. Oracle Data Catalog Cloud, now introduced in preview, is the company's answer to organizing the data of the enterprise and helping users navigate to the information that they need.

As a data catalog, Oracle Data Catalog Cloud will bring structure and navigability for users to the Oracle stack. It will not just be a standalone application that users must log into to leverage; rather, an API layer will embed the data catalog functionality into other environments and applications. The goal is to help users, wherever they are in the Oracle application ecosystem, navigate and find the data they need, regardless of whether or not that data resides in an Oracle database.

The vision for the Oracle Data Catalog Cloud is to create an enterprise-wide metadata layer, a necessity for the modern organization that is looking to leverage data enterprise-wide. The key to the success of this metadata layer is the inclusion of all enterprise data sources. But that does not mean prioritizations are not being made as the product is built out. For now, Oracle data sources are the primary focus; however, the product roadmap will seek to encompass a diversifying number of data sources that extend beyond the Oracle ecosystem.    



Security in a 5G world    
Mike Sapien, Chief Analyst, Enterprise Services

Oracle Communications hosted a session on "Security in a 5G World," which highlighted the current need for security within the network operator's network and the work that Oracle is currently doing to develop the new techniques and infrastructure that will be required with 5G deployment. Today Oracle has years of experience with the SS7 network within operator networks and is leveraging this knowledge to develop the new architecture required for the transition to 5G and the growing demands of IoT. Along with the transition to 5G, the massively growing volume of IoT devices, and implementation of SDN/NFV, operators will increase the attack surface of their networks and the signaling system required to manage 5G. Oracle is contributing to standards bodies, industry specifications, and FCC filings to help develop the needed policies and design for 5G and related signaling. Operators will need a new level of security and the ability to connect and communicate with other networks and cloud resources for many of the emerging new services. Ovum was impressed with Oracle's contributions and effort in this overall industry endeavor beyond its own CSP product development.    



OpenWorld 2018: Day four


Supply chain meets identity meets blockchain    
Rik Turner, Principal Analyst, IT Infrastructure

With an identity-as-a-service (IDaaS) offering up and running and blockchain-as-a-service now also in the market, Oracle is working on combining the two where appropriate in the B2B market that is its focus (i.e., not the blockchain-powered consumer identity work that the self-sovereign identity community of vendors such as IBM, Apple, and Microsoft are engaged in).

Supply chain and identity are two areas in which blockchain technology has a role to play, and Oracle is, in essence, talking about an offering that brings the two together, namely a distributed depository of supplier identities together with their individual certifications for ethical behavior in areas such as environmental protection, child labor, or bribery, with those certifications issued and validated by trusted third parties (as with the certification authorities of the PKI world). For example, a US or European retailer could verify that its source of tuna, trainers, or toiletries complies with all the necessary regulations so that it could avoid any backlash from enlightened consumers in the markets it operates in.

This is supply chain meets identity meets blockchain and could produce some interesting results, provided regulators, governments, and private entities such as auditors can be persuaded to take part as the trusted third parties.    



Oracle adds AMD to its bare-metal stable    
Roy Illsley, Distinguished Analyst, IT Infrastructure

Oracle announced that it would be offering a set of AMD-based compute instances based on the AMD Epyc processor. Oracle becomes one of the first public cloud providers to have a bare-metal version with AMD Epyc processors. It is expected that these instances will cost $0.03/core hour. This price represents a significant saving compared to the Intel-based instances that Oracle and other cloud providers currently offer. One of the criticisms of AMD processors has been their performance in terms of memory bandwidth, but the AMD Epyc can deliver more than 269GB/s. This makes it a very good general-purpose processor to meet the needs of big data analytics – which is a memory-bandwidth intensive operation.    



Security is a global concern    
Mike Sapien, Chief Analyst, Enterprise Services

On day four of OpenWorld, Oracle assembled an extremely impressive security panel, which included former head of US homeland security Jeh Johnson, former leader of the NSA and CIA Michael Hayden, and John Scarlett, former head of the UK's MI6. These grandees were joined by Oracle's chief architect Edward Screven, with co-CEO Mark Hurd as the moderator. In addition to the usual pitch on the importance of security and the lack of security talent, the panel raised a few key points: Nation state attacks are still a major issue without any fixed definition that would help to align responses and their severity to them. China has major GDP prowess and takes a position that information is really power; it invests more heavily in cybersecurity assets than in traditional military investments. The panel seemed to have mixed views on the benefits of applying AI to security measures, but that seemed to be due to the relatively unknown quantity of leveraging AI with ML and analytics in this field. Oracle's Screven made a strong statement on the many levels of security baked into the company's solutions, including encryption, but the one major bit of advice to customers that stood out was: know which are your key assets to protect. This would help to prioritize security investment and hopefully keep the business in a better position. This may seem very basic, but it explains why enterprises with the most valuable IP lead the industry and spend the most on security.    



Oracle's customers are driving its move to subscription management    
Mila D'Antonio, Principal Analyst, Customer Engagement

At OpenWorld, Oracle showcased its new end-to-end subscription management solution – Oracle Subscription Management. Touted as a better way to build subscription models and manage new revenue streams, the solution enables enterprises to operate hybrid product and service/subscription business models on the same platform.

The development of the solution is in response to a consumption shift to recurring payment models, but that shift creates complicated pricing challenges. Oracle Subscription Management aims to solve the mechanics of pricing and simplify the experience for users.

Digital startups such as Blue Apron, StitchFix, Netflix, and Dollar Shave Club popularized and then normalized the subscription model. Today a growing number of traditional enterprises are moving to a subscription model. BMW and Mercedes are piloting plans this year that offer customers a vehicle to drive in return for a monthly fee that includes insurance, maintenance, and pickup and delivery. Customers typically can switch among available vehicles based on their needs.

While the growing adoption of the subscription business model is exciting, as well as the emergence of the technology to support it, personalization is the key for subscription management to succeed. While the underlying technology is critical, so is listening to customers' feedback and responding with what they ask for.    



DataFox acquisition brings AI-curated B2B data to Oracle's data and AI portfolio    
Tom Pringle, Head of Technology Research

The continuing expansion of Oracle's Adaptive Intelligent Apps and data-as-a-service portfolios was bolstered by the announced acquisition of DataFox during this year's OpenWorld. In a nutshell, the DataFox acquisition is important for three reasons. First, it brings greater focus on B2B data to the DaaS offer; previous acquisitions were focused on the B2C space – the BlueKai, Datalogix, and Moat acquisitions were squarely in that arena. Second, DataFox's use of AI capabilities to help source, manage, and enrich data is an interesting application that complements Oracle's current capabilities in AI, with a noted focus on handling web-scale data sources. Third, it is further fuel to Oracle's application portfolio, which can use DataFox to enrich a customer's own first-party data, for example, as in CRM, helping both to surface relevant signals that may indicate changes in buying intent or to reveal potential new prospects. We will have to wait to see how DataFox is integrated into Oracle's portfolio, but the three reasons highlighted here suggest the immediate-term value to Oracle and its customers. In future, its additive potential as its AI engine and data are combined with other Oracle AI and data assets is exponential.    



Oracle Blockchain Platform use cases revolve around provenance and lineage    
Paige Bartley, Senior Analyst, Data & Enterprise Intelligence

One of the challenges of emerging technology is finding concrete use cases that will drive business value. While many organizations are afraid of missing out, this alone is hardly a full-fledged justification for investing in infrastructure and technology solutions. With blockchain in particular, businesses are frequently struggling to find use cases beyond a few well-defined examples.

For Oracle customers, the common theme of blockchain use cases has coalesced around provenance and lineage of entities. Customers of the Oracle Blockchain Platform who spoke at the OpenWorld event represented a wide range of industries; however, most of their use cases were defined in one way or another by the need to track exactly what happened to a particular thing over time. When organizations or businesses need an immutable record of the steps of a journey or process, blockchain's capabilities as a distributed ledger are a good fit. Use cases from customers included tracking the origin and provenance of food products, helping to manage the migration and refugee process for a nation, and managing the documentation of the maritime shipping process. Potential use cases were also discussed; blockchain also holds promise as a documentation method for compliance efforts, helping organizations to prove that their products were not sourced from conflict regions or other problematic scenarios.    



Oracle looks to enable 5G infrastructure    
Mike Sapien, Chief Analyst, Enterprise Services

One of Oracle Communications' key priorities is the company's role in 5G development and deployment, given Oracle's role within carrier infrastructure, including a long history in SS7. During some of the OpenWorld 2018 sessions, Oracle shared many examples of its engagement in the future signaling and security requirements for 5G. As many of the global operators move to 5G, this expertise and knowledge, along with the emerging standards and related development, will be critical to the success of 5G deployment and many planned capabilities and features, including IoT applications. Oracle's investment in these standards, sharing its knowledge, and collaborating with the industry at large should enable the promise of 5G. Just as SS7 reliability was key to voice services and carrier-to-carrier in its heyday, 5G's reliability, security, and interconnection features will be critical to more complex planned 5G services and carrier interworking.    



Augmented reality will reshape customer engagement of the future    
Mila D'Antonio, Principal Analyst, Customer Engagement

Shon Wedde, senior director of Oracle product management, spoke to Ovum about how augmented reality (AR), in combination with IoT, will reshape the way enterprises engage with customers. Service organizations in particular will access a spatial screen with augmented information that will enable multiuser engagement and collaboration in the real world. It will change the way enterprises search for information. Instead of clicking on something, customer-facing employees will just be able to visualize it.

Oracle's efforts to invest in AR capabilities is forward-thinking. Ovum believes AR will enable users to have shared experiences, not just shared videos or messages. Such capabilities will inevitably transform the way enterprises serve and interact with customers, the way they work and collaborate with employees, and the way they ultimately conduct business. Whether reinforcing service organizations by providing complete customer information or making product information available for commerce and product guides, the scenarios for how the AR cloud will improve customer support and engagement are endless.